Tuesday, 7 February 2012

a week of my life, lost

so it's been a week since i've posted. there has been a reason. the reason is that i have been unwell. my symptoms have been a severe headache, fever, constant nausea and tiredness. no runny nose, no cough, no tight chest or sore throat.

it started on monday 31st, auckland anniversary, with mostly the headache and tiredness. got worse on tuesday & i couldn't go to work. on wednesday morning i drag myself to work but by 11 o'clock, i realise i need to see make an appointment to see my GP. so i ring up the PHO where i'm registered, and they tell me there are no appointments available on that day, and the earliest appointment i can get is the afternoon of the following day.

i know the next thing they are going to say is that i can drop in and see their on-call doctor. but i don't wait for the receptionist to say that, i just tell her "why do you make out that you're providing a service, when you're not". because i am inordinately p*ssed off that i can not see my regular doctor when i need to see a doctor. in fact, i don't even have a regular doctor at that place other than in name only, because she is never available when i am sick. and it turns out that none of the other doctors are either.

the only thing that i can deduce from this situation is that the place does not have enough doctors to look after the patients on their books. or to put it another way, they have too many patients for the number of doctors. i can't understand why that should be allowed to happen. i can understand that the doctors do not want to be sitting around twiddling their thumbs, not earning money by seeing patients, so they take on more than they should. but they should not be taking on so many more that they can't give a same day appointment or at least one in under 24 hours, for goodness sake.

to me, that is just false advertising. you are not providing a health service if you are not able to provide a timely health service. and if i have to see an on-call male doctor, then i may as well go to the A&E clinic where i can find an on-call male doctor at any time. what is the point of PHOs and a personal GP, when a clinic can not provide regular contact with the same GP.

change clinics, you say? well guess what? i've already change clinics twice for exactly this same problem. and i can't think of where else i can go that is close to my home, and who will give me an appointment with the same female GP, within 24 hours of when i call to make an appointment. this is abjectly pathetic. it's not a health system, it's a joke.

where are all our GPs? we have the international ones driving taxis and running dairies. we have the local-made ones leaving the country. we clearly just don't have enough, and that situation can change if someone (namely the government and the medical council) put their minds to it.

so to continue with my experience, i go to the A&E clinic wednesday afternoon, after work. i get to see a doctor who, after all his questions and examinations, tells me to take panadol and rest, and that the thing i have (a stomach flu?) is going to last 7 days. after some prompting, he gives me a prescription for something to help with the nausea. yay. $73 to be told to rest & take panadol. hardly what i'd call my money's worth.

so thursday morning, i wake up feeling even worse, but i stay in bed and rest and take panadol. friday i drag myself to work, but it's a struggle. saturday, i'm feeling so bad that i sleep through most of the day. the nausea medicine doesn't work, the panadol deals with the fever but not the severe headache. saturday night i go back to the A&E clinic, where yay, i get a woman doctor.

after all the questions, and much less intrusive examination (probably cos the other doctor had already done most of that), she tells me i have a really bad sinus infection and gives me antibiotics. it's been 3 days since then, and i'm really not feeling too much better. still with the nausea, and the headache (though not so severe). the fever seems to be gone. i somehow have the feeling that, had i started the antibiotics last wednesday, my illness would not be quite so severe and i'd be mostly over it by now. of course, i'm not a doctor. but that doesn't mean i don't know my own body.

i know we have a pretty world-class health system. i know our doctors do want to cure us, and are generally caring people. but 9 times out of 10, going through that health systems feels like taking another battering on top the illness i already have. it makes me reluctant to see a doctor, because mostly i find it doesn't help. i've tried alternative medicine once, but aside from the fact that an appointment is twice as expensive as a GP and isn't covered by medical insurance (neither is the medicine), it just did not work for me. so i'm stuck with the standard health system, and it also is not really working for me.


Law said...

Yes! I understand/ agree 100% Find it hard to word how frustrated I get by poor service from doctors. When I get treated badly/ ripped off in a shop or cafe, I don't go back. Why should it be different with my doctor? Have you tried going you your local female pharmacist for advice when ill? I had a really good experience when I had an eye infection recently. Only $17 for diagnosis, advice and meds. Won't work for everything though! Sorry you're sick, feel better soon.

stargazer said...

thanx law, am starting to feel a lot better with the anti-biotic kicking in. still have a mild feeling of nausea but nowhere near as bad as last week.

pharmacist is not a bad idea - they seem to be just as competent as the doctors and give you a range of medicines to choose from, with the pros and cons of each one. doctors don't always do that.

i've just been reading on "the end is naenae" that it takes almost 2 weeks to get a doctor in upper hutt due to the shortage of GPs. that is truly appalling. GPs are the first port of call, and sick people should be seeing them earlier rather than sooner. if we don't have enough in this country, we should either allow more people into medical school, or look at changing restrictions on overseas doctors seeking to practice here.